Meet the Arts Board Matching Program Class of 2019!

The Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville selected 15 Nashville professionals to participate in the 2019 Arts Board Matching program where they will gain the skills to be effective, engaged board members of local nonprofit arts organizations.

The Arts & Business Council believes there are exceptionally talented individuals at all levels within area businesses who can make great contributions to the local arts community. By serving on a nonprofit board of directors, professionals learn to lead and influence people, take risks, resolve conflicts, practice creative decision-making, and help strengthen the community. Arts Board Matching participants gain extensive and diverse exposure to the arts industry, opportunities to network with arts organizations and other professionals across industries, and the chance to work in a visible role with other community leaders.

Arts Board Matching consists of four half-day workshops that are spread over the course of four weeks in October. Participants experience sessions that provide an overview of the arts and culture sector in Nashville as well as insights into board governance, fiduciary and financial responsibilities, fundraising, and strategic planning. After completing the training, participants attend a speed-dating-style Match Event where they have the chance to connect with arts nonprofits seeking new board members.

The Arts Board Matching Class of 2019 includes:

Christian Barker, Lewis Thomason

 Christian Barker, Special Counsel, joined the Nashville office in May after nearly eight years as a solo practice entertainment attorney to help launch Lewis Thomason’s first foray into the entertainment law field. Primarily music industry-focused, Christian provides transactional and litigation representation for artists, songwriters, producers, independent record labels, independent music publishing companies, and boutique artist management companies nationwide. In addition, Christian represents clients in the TV/film, fine arts, and PR/digital media realms and manages the intellectual property portfolios of several small businesses—both in and outside of the entertainment space. He also frequently handles family law matters involving disputed intellectual property assets. Christian began his career in the music industry as an artist manager, where he managed the careers of country songwriter and recording artist Walker Hayes and former American Idol finalist and pop/RB/jazz recording artist Matt Giraud. Outside of his practice, he remains active in the creative space as an A&R consultant providing talent scouting, song-plugging, and career advising services to numerous songwriters, artists, labels, and publishers. Christian is the Immediate Past President of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, has been listed as a “Rising Star” in Super Lawyers’ Entertainment & Sports category for the last three years, was a 2017 Fellow in the Nashville Chapter of the New Leaders Council, and serves on the Board of Advisors for the Stetson University School of Music and DIME Collective, a Nashville-based digital media company specializing in podcast production and marketing.


Caleb Barron, Bradley

 Caleb is an employee benefits and tax attorney at Bradley, where he advises clients on a broad range of employee benefits and executive compensation issues as well as compliance and controversy issues in state and federal tax. Caleb received his bachelor’s degree in business administration and law degree from the University of Tennessee. Following law school, Caleb served as a judicial clerk to Chief Judge J. Daniel Breen in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and as assistant general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Revenue. When Caleb is not at the office, he enjoys trying new restaurants, catching shows at TPAC, playing golf, or finding any excuse to be outside with his wife, Alexandra, two young sons, Henry and Jack, and dog, Hercules.


Dr. Dina Bennett, NMAAM

Dr. Dina M. Bennett is the Curatorial Director at the National Museum of African American Music, and an ethnomusicologist who specializes in African American music and culture. Dr. Bennett has previously served as the Associate Director of the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas; Director of Education at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi; and as the Manager of Collections and Exhibitions at the American Jazz Museum (AJM) in Kansas City, Missouri. During her AJM tenure, she oversaw the museum’s temporary and permanent collection exhibitions, and also served as the co-curator and consulting ethnomusicologist for the museum’s John H. Baker Jazz Film Collection Exhibition (2009), the first addition to the jazz museum’s permanent exhibition since its opening in September 1997. Originally from Topeka, Kansas, Dr. Bennett earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Washburn University, a master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Kansas State University, and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology with a minor in African American & African Diaspora Studies from Indiana University. Dr. Bennett has over 30 years’ experience in the music field and is an accomplished pianist. She currently serves on the advisory team of scholars for “A History of African American Music,” an interactive timeline produced as a resource for Carnegie Hall’s 2009 festival “Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy” curated by internationally renowned soprano Jessye Norman.


Amy Blomme, UNICEF

Originally from rural Missouri, Amy has called a number of places home, having lived for eight years in Brooklyn, and also putting down roots in Bangkok, Madrid, Geneva, London, St. Louis and now Nashville. Amy has over eight years of experience working on global education programs for the most marginalized children at UNICEF and UNESCO. Her work has honed her skills in advocacy and partnerships, strategic planning and project management within the education sector.

During and after college, she worked in the visual arts worlds in St. Louis and Brooklyn – exploring work in museums, a gallery, and an artist residency program.

Amy graduated cum laude from St. Louis University with a degree in Art History, English Literature and a minor in painting, and she holds an M.A. in International Relations, with a focus on cultural heritage.

In her spare time, Amy enjoys teaching and practicing yoga, painting, horseback riding, reading a good book and seeing the latest music and arts shows.


Ellen Crowley, CMT

Ellen Crowley was born in Tampa, Florida where she was raised with a passion for the creative arts. Ellen made the move to Nashville to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree from Belmont University’s Entertainment Industry Studies program. During her time at Belmont, she served as an active member of the creative Nashville community through various opportunities including a marketing position at Belmont’s Ocean Way Nashville Recording Studios, leadership roles in student-run organizations on campus, and various internships within different facets of the entertainment industry in both New York and Nashville. Following graduation, Ellen accepted a position in Public Affairs at CMT, a subsidiary of Viacom, where she manages CMT’s pro-social campaigns and initiatives as well as local community engagement opportunities and partnerships. Through these endeavors, Ellen now serves as the chair of the Advisory Board of CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication at McGavock High School.


Hilary Dennen, Gullett, Sanford, Robinson & Martin, PLLC

 Hilary Dennen is an attorney at Gullett, Sanford, Robinson & Martin, PLLC in the Litigation Section, where she represents clients in a variety of matters, including trust and estate litigation, employment litigation, property disputes, and complex civil litigation. Hilary is a Nashville native, who graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in Political Science and Theatre and a M.A. in Political Science. While at Vanderbilt, Hilary was extensively involved in the Theatre Department and was a staff member in the Theatre Department’s Costume Shop. In 2017, Hilary earned her J.D. at Belmont University College of Law. In her spare time, Hilary enjoys spending time with her pets—two rescued Old English Sheepdogs, two cats, and one Yorkie—and traveling. Hilary is excited to give back to the arts community in Nashville.


Lauranette Ford, NMAAM

Lauranette S. Ford is the Database Manager at the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM). Her expertise includes internal auditing, project management, process improvement, and donor database management. She is a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), a Certified Project Manager Professional (PMP), a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and a Certified Risk Management Assurance Professional (CRMA).

Organizations which have benefited from Lauranette’s expertise include: Tennessee Valley Authority- Office of the Inspector General, Deloitte, and The General Council on Finance & Administration of the United Methodist Church. She is a proud member of Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Lauranette is affiliated with the Internal Audit Institute of Middle TN, Women in Technology, Project Managers Institute-Nashville; the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners-Middle TN, and CABLE-Nashville. Additionally, she is a life-member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from South Carolina State University. Her leisure time is spent traveling, shopping, attending NFL games, enjoying live music, and volunteering. She has a passion for the Arts, especially, enjoying live music and visiting museums. She is married to James “Jim” Ford. They reside in Mt. Juliet, TN.


Carla Hale, Cumberland Trust

Carla Hale enjoys working at Cumberland Trust as an Engagement Officer and Assistant Vice President. She is responsible for her team that partners with Business Development Officers to identify new business opportunities and navigate the internal new account process for new and prospective clients.

Over the past 10 years at Cumberland Trust, she has help decorate their new office space, worked with CEO and artist, Pepe Presley, selecting art for their new space, along with coordinating employee events and parties. It’s an honor to work for a supportive company to its clients, team members and community.

Carla had spent 7 years working with Larson Juhl, a manufacturer and distributor of picture frame mouldings and supplies. She worked as an Art Consultant with a couple of art retail galleries. Her degree in art has led her to the business world, but she finds time to feed her hunger for creativity. She has many other passions: flower arranging, decorating, painting, crafting and teaching others of all ages to find their creativeness.


Berry Holt, Bradley

As a member of Bradley’s Healthcare and Corporate Practice Groups, Berry Holt focuses his practice primarily on the healthcare industry. For over four decades, he has handled a wide range of healthcare provider and other business matters. Berry has an insiders’ knowledge of the operational and legal issues within an integrated healthcare delivery system. He has worked extensively on physician compensation and reimbursement issues, as well as alternative payment structures and initiatives. In addition, Berry has assisted in corporate debt issuances, restructures and workouts within a broad range of industries.

For 18 years Berry served as outside general counsel for Ascension Saint Thomas Health and its many subsidiaries and affiliates. In that role and other engagements, Berry advised governing boards and executive teams on policy, regulatory and business issues and sophisticated business transactions. Transactions ranged from hospital and ancillary provider acquisitions and joint ventures to the creation of integrated healthcare delivery entities. 

Berry is a past president of the Tennessee Academy of Hospital Attorneys, and a founding board member of the Nashville Food Project and the Nashville Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He is a board member of the Mental Health Cooperative and former chairman of the Discovery Place board, and is a former board member of the Tennesseans for the Arts and First Tennessee Bank, N.A.

Berry has been a speaker for various healthcare trade associations with regard to hospital and physician issues, joint ventures, compliance programs and other regulatory matters, and he has written articles on a variety of healthcare and business topics. He has also spoken frequently at the Annual Health Law Forum sponsored by the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Tennessee Bar Association.

Berry has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for healthcare law, corporate law and mergers and acquisitions law; in Chambers USA for his healthcare practice; in Mid-South Super Lawyers for healthcare; and in the Expert Guide to the “Leading US Healthcare Lawyers.” He was also named one of the “Health Care Heroes 2007” by the Nashville Business Journal and named one of the “150 Best Lawyers” by Business Tennessee magazine.


Lauren Hughes, Rockridge Venture Law

 Lauren Hughes is an associate counsel of Rockridge Venture Law, Tennessee’s only Certified B Corp law group and a 2019 Best for the World Honoree for community impact. If you’re looking for someone to guide you through a legal minefield, her primary practice areas include data privacy, technology, intellectual property, and entrepreneurship. She’s also quite savvy when it comes to corporate social responsibility.

Lauren leads the Women in Tech committee of the Knoxville Technology Council; was selected to advocate among the National Association of Women Lawyers; and is a proud member of Women in Technology of Tennessee. She received her JD from the University of Tennessee College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Business from the University of Tennessee at Martin.

In her free time, Lauren dabbles with paint and canvas, enjoys watching creative performers, and is an avid reader. 


Marissa Shapiro, The Bulleit Group

 Marissa Shapiro is a strategist at technology communications agency The Bulleit Group, helping companies with moonshot innovations tell their stories to the world. Prior to her work in technology-centric communications, Marissa worked in local and national politics and as a producer on a documentary film about wildlife preservation Marissa arrived to Nashville in December 2018 after four years in Tel Aviv, Israel. She studied history and international development at Tulane University in New Orleans. Outside of work, Marissa enjoys weekly ceramics classes, exploring Tennessee’s beautiful outdoors, and enjoying all of the culture that Nashville has to offer. 


Joe Sotiroff, Caterpillar Financial

 Joe Sotiroff is a finance professional with 12 years in the equipment lending industry with Caterpillar Financial. Experiences include cash and intercompany lending in treasury, construction and acquisition loan underwriting, business analyst for an IT project, team management and customer service. Joe moved to the wonderful Music City from Decatur, IL after accepting a job offer from Caterpillar Inc. Joe graduated from Millikin University with a B.S. in finance and a minor in saxophone.

When away from the office, you can find Joe in his studio (second bedroom) playing, writing and recording music. He enjoys helping Junior Achievement by teaching children critical business and personal financial concepts. He also enjoys brewing beer, fly fishing with his twin brother, visiting Decatur and Indianapolis to spoil his four nieces, and hiking the beautiful Tennessee countryside.


Mark Terrell, FirstBank

Mark Terrell is a Commercial Relationship Manager and Vice President with FirstBank in Nashville, TN, focusing on helping businesses and nonprofits grow their organizations in areas such as fashion, real estate, manufacturing, and entertainment. Prior to joining FirstBank in 2016, Mark was a branch manager with Regions Bank, in charge of hiring and managing staff, and overall branch performance. In addition to managing at Regions, Mark also served on several committees within the bank, including United Way, representing Regions’ consumer banking division for Middle Tennessee. 

While having enjoyed over thirteen years of valuable banking, business, and public relations experience, Mark’s real passion has been the arts, most notably music, as well as acting. A self-taught drummer since the age of six, Mark also took up guitar, piano, and singing, thanks to growing up in a family of musicians. Mark has played with several bands over the years, since the age of 14, and continues to write and record music as a hobby. 

Born and raised in Birmingham, AL, Mark has lived in Nashville since 2004.


Chance Thomasson, Elliott Davis

Chance is a manager with Elliott Davis, a regional public accounting and consulting firm.  He focuses on providing accounting and risk consulting services in the financial institutions industry sector.  With over 14 years of financial services experience working with public and private financial institutions and the insurance industry ranging in asset size of $100 million to $22 billion in assets with a focus on providing risk management services. Chance’s experience working with private and public companies b including assisting in determining and setting up key controls SOX 404 and FDICIA requirements.  Chance is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. 


Avery VanPelt, Rebekah Fisher & Associates, PLLC

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Avery VanPelt currently practices law with Rebekah Fisher & Associates, PLLC in Franklin, TN, focusing on all aspects of commercial real estate transactions. She came to legal practice by way of publishing, having started her career as a writer and editor, first for multiple lifestyle magazines, and later working in the public policy division of a Washington D.C.-based newswire service. Prior to and during college, Avery trained as both a ballet and modern dancer, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Performance from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.

While a student, she studied under artists from the Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Pilobolus, and others, and after graduating from college performed with several small dance companies in Atlanta and Washington D.C. She moved to Nashville in 2011 and gained her law degree in 2014 from Vanderbilt University Law School. With her dance background, editorial and legal experience, and her passion for arts advocacy, Avery hopes to support the thriving arts community in Nashville and is excited to join the 2019 Arts Board Matching Cohort.